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New Zealanders grow in Treaty knowledge

Human Rights Commission

21 March 2006

New Zealanders grow in Treaty knowledge

The number of New Zealanders who say they have a good or reasonable knowledge of the Treaty of Waitangi has increased, according to research released by the Human Rights Commission on Race Relations Day.

The survey, conducted by UMR Research, reported that 42% of New Zealanders said they knew a lot or a reasonable amount about the Treaty, an increase from 36% of respondents in a similar survey in September 2002.

The survey found that New Zealanders aged under 30 had higher levels of knowledge about the Treaty than other groups. Almost three quarters of Maori said they knew a lot or a reasonable amount about the Treaty, compared with 39% of non-Maori.

Human Rights Chief Commissioner Rosslyn Noonan said that a number of factors had helped contribute to increased public knowledge about the Treaty.

"There has been extensive public dialogue about the Treaty and this has led to people wanting more information. There have also been education programmes in schools and extensive public education about the Treaty, involving a website, booklets and the Treaty 2U initiative.

"Some of these initiatives are scheduled to conclude at the end of June. The survey indicates that they are making a positive contribution to people's understanding of the Treaty, and that there is still a need for further information programmes beyond that date to reach those who feel they are not well informed."

Ms Noonan said that in the past three years thousands of New Zealanders had taken part in dialogue sessions facilitated by the Human Rights Commission about the human rights dimension of the Treaty.

"These dialogue sessions have demonstrated time and again the value of people being able to sit down and talk directly with each other about the issues."

The UMR survey also found there was strong overall agreement (66% agree; 12% disagree) to the statement that "in addition to having the same rights as all New Zealanders, Maori have the right to live as Maori".

Ms Noonan said this seemed to indicate a stronger degree of support, for example, for the availability of te reo Maori and other cultural protection and development programmes.

"Race Relations Day is an opportunity to celebrate the richness of New Zealand society and to introduce people to the many cultures, traditions and backgrounds that make up our country," said Ms Noonan.

The theme for Race Relations Day 2006 is 'Aotearoa, New Zealand, Turangawaewae, Our Home', focusing on what it means to belong here together.

The government will today mark Race Relations Day with a reception hosted by the Minister for Ethnic Affairs and the Office of Ethnic Affairs.

The Christchurch City Council has brought Herman McKinney, Director of the Urban Enterprise Centre in Seattle, to speak at a "Let's Talk About Race Relations" event at Christchurch Cathedral tomorrow night.

A list of community-based Race Relations Day events is on the Commission's website at www.hrc.co.nz .


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